Ever since the digital revolution started more than a decade ago, Milwaukee has not grown nearly as fast as other cities in the country. Some people thought it was a problem with Wisconsin. However, Madison and other cities like Eau Claire have grown substantially faster than Milwaukee. Specifically, Madison\’s biotechnology industry has fueled its expansion in recent years while Milwaukee\’s once powerful manufacturing industry dwindled and became a liability. Although Milwaukee is slowly making a comeback, Madison is still chugging along at growth rates that are, at times, three times the size of Milwaukee\’s. So is it safe to say that Madison\’s economy, now grown to 40% the size of Milwaukee\’s, could be the economic leader of Wisconsin in the future?
Madison does have the tools in place to be a contender, primarily a great educational infrastructure. Milwaukee is only now realizing the importance of education in maintaining economic clout and is now starting to push support behind its universities. However its public school system, MPS, does not provide Milwaukee\’s universities with an abundance of good students which limits the synergies and benefits that would arise from a private sector / university partnership. Madison has this partnership and is a big reason for its relatively huge success in recent years.
So is Milwaukee finished as Wisconsin\’s powerhouse? Should we start looking to Madison for guidance and hope? Not quite yet. But if Milwaukee\’s schools don\’t shape up, Madison may be the front-runner sooner than we expect.